The Fallacy of Constitutional Fetishism By Ian Wilson
I have always been amazed at a trend in Freedom Movement types to think that if they can simply get in front of a judge and argue for something, like, I don’t owe the banks anything because the banks create credit from nothing, and that they will win given enough books and references. It does not work that way, as numerous people have found out. The legal system by definition acts to preserve the status quo. This is even true with cases like Mabo, because the status quo was changing in the direction of political correctness then, so the decision was completely in line with what the elites wanted. Anyway, argued below, South Africa is a good counter-example to legal fetishism:
“American conservatives have a touching faith in the power of written guarantees and legal codes to safeguard traditional liberties. This confidence in legalism is probably a product of America’s Anglo-Saxon heritage, but as demographics change, paper assurances of fundamental rights are likely to yield to the wishes of tribally orientated non-whites. In response, American conservatives may cling even more tightly to the founding documents: “At least I still have the Constitution,” as the popular meme reads. A look at current events in South Africa shows that demographic change can sweep aside even the most solemn constitutional guarantees. By an overwhelming majority, South Africa’s National Assembly recently approved the formation of a committee that will draft a constitutional change permitting expropriation of land without compensation. During the debate, an MP from the Economic Freedom Fighters party declared, “Your time is up, white people.”
South Africa’s High Court rejected a legal challenge from farm lobby Afriforum to stop this change. The motion calls on parliament to “make explicit that which is implicit in the Constitution, with regards to expropriation of land without compensation, as a legitimate option for land reform, so as to address the historic wrongs caused by the arbitrary dispossession of land, and in so doing ensure equitable access to land and further empower the majority of South Africans to be productive participants in ownership, food security and agricultural reform programs.”
The reference to “equitable access” and the redressing of “historic wrongs” means outright redistribution of wealth is becoming a policy option. Whites continue to out earn black South Africans per capita, and South African politicians criticize “white monopoly capital,” suggesting more redistribution is necessary. The majority of South Africans are of course black and already receive government preferences in jobs and education under a strict affirmative action regime that makes many working-class whites unemployable. Under a redistributionist program, land seizure is probably not the end of the process but the beginning, because even after land is redistributed, racial inequality will persist. Already, there is discussion of introducing a new “wealth tax.” In South Africa, this will mean redistributing wealth from whites to blacks. As for losing their homes and farms, one EFF official said whites should get over it because “it is not really their land.”
In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe’s land redistribution forced out whites and led to economic collapse. South Africa’s government argues its own process will be different, since it will be a legal, transparent process rather than through mobs besieging farms. South Africa will probably not descend into chaos as Zimbabwe did. The government of Cyril Ramaphosa is anxious to reassure international creditors and markets. He is likely to go only as far as he can without risking collapse. Yet only the most naive can expect that South Africa’s deeply corrupt leaders won’t favor friends and political allies. Julius Malema—whose Economic Freedom Fighters party has been pushing expropriation without compensation—faces accusations of tax evasion and corruption. His party is also embroiled in a scandal for allegedly looting funds from a bank that was set up to help South Africa’s poor. As Bloomberg’s Sam Mkokeli and Amogelang Mbatha recently noted, both ANC and EFF politicians flaunt luxury goods and live in luxurious neighborhoods.
The conservative, pro-business white government that handed over power to Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress did not have this outcome in mind. F.W. de Klerk’s ruling National Party stepped down in exchange for protections for the capitalist system. This “liberation bargain” included recognizing whites’ ownership of the land they possessed, the preservation of private ownership of mines and other industries, and no wholesale redistribution of wealth. This included paying market value for white land as part of any program of land reform. Though Nelson Mandela considered land reform a priority, even he did not endorse outright seizure. The South African government has failed to meet its redistribution target by paying fair value for land. Therefore, it will stop paying.
If the conservatives who oversaw the end of white South Africa could have seen the future, it is unlikely they would have signed away their country. In a 2004 interview at the Council on Foreign Relations, F.W. de Klerk expressed confidence in South Africa’s future because of “adherence to well-balanced economic policies, fighting inflation, [and] doing all the right things in order to lay the basis and the foundation for sustained economic growth.” Like a true neoliberal, he dismissed the potential dangers of self-determination for ethnic groups because “we’re one economy.” This dedication to GDP instead of the survival of one’s people is exactly what white advocates would expect from someone like Mr. de Klerk. He cited “the constitutional certainty, the adherence to the constitution” and “an underlying goodwill between all the people of South Africa, a sort of a commitment to make the new South Africa work” as reasons for optimism.”
My guess is that de Clerk could probably anticipate the future and did not care, or more simply, did not care. How could South Africans not see it coming? The same way our sheeple continue to peacefully graze as the dark storm clouds gather. The fact remains that the legal system is part of the wider society, and is not immune to the same social forces that rule it. Lawyers simply deliver the results that the system Wants. Hence, the chances of changing anything, our way by means of the law, are minimal. Of course, there will still be specific lawsuits that could be won on, say, personal defamation; that are still possible, but the sort of change that the Left achieved via the law, are impossible for our side of politics to achieve. It is best that we acknowledge this now, so no more time and resources are wasted.